“Makers and Takers:” They’re Projecting Again!

By Joe Firestone

I found a segment on MCNBC’s Up With Steve Kornacke show revealing for what it did not say. The segment started off with a clip from a Recent Town Hall of John McCain’s. Senator McCain took a question from a woman who said, with more than a little emotion.

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Woman: “It kills me every time i hear senators, especially republicans, talk about those takers. they’re just taken. the takers. i paid taxes for over 30 years and i have a rare illness and now i’m disabled. the state of arizona raised the eligibility for a program that was paying $100 a month for my medicaid to 3.4%. consequently, i was cut off. $100 a month, which meant (breaks down) i could no longer go to physical therapy. do it intentionally to cut as many people as they can for as long as they can from benefits that are desperately needed and it’s just not right. we’re the takers.”

McCain walked slowly over to the woman and said in a consoling and emotional voice:

McCain: ”I thank you, you’re not a taker. you’re not a taker.”

Kornacke comments on the clip: “That was amazing to watch because to me what i thought was i watching there is somebody, we talked earlier about the media bubbles, the media bubble on the conservative side where that rhetoric of makers versus takers. paul ryan talked about it and mitt romney had had the 47% tape that came out last year. that, to me, is somebody who has heard that and doesn’t live in that bubble and sort of looked at themselves and had a powerful, emotional reaction and here’s a public office holder and said, no, ma’am, you’re not a taker.”

Then Sam Seder added:

“McCain walking over to her and say you’re not a taker, you’re not a taker. it’s absurd. it’s gotten to the point of absurdity when the republicans have to justify to say to a person like that, you’re not a taker. this is still going on. again, this is the same problem the republicans have and this is why i think they ultimately so want the democrats to cut social security and medicaid and medicare down the road because they don’t want to have to own this. i mean, just last week fox news had had a two-hour special on how people on food stamps are takers.”

The Republican strategist on Kornacke’s panel then offered the insight that “anecdotal cuts both ways.” And Seder replied

”I understand. but the reality is that guy who is getting $200, if that’s going to be the leverage point to deny this woman the benefits to get physical therapy, the republicans are going to have a problem. and they are feeling this. they are feeling this.”

Whereupon, Krystal Ball capped the political implications with:

“And it’s easy to talk about the numbers and put it in this big context, where you’re not seeing the those human faces. and i think that interaction that you just played is the republican party problem in the nutshell. when people actually hear the rhetoric and it occurs to them, they’re not talking about some faceless other. they’re talking about me. they are never going to vote for a party that sees them as a bunch of mooching takers.”

This, of course, was a very direct point. But I wondered what happened to the other side of the makers/takers issue? Namely, that the people who call the rest of us takers, delight in all the largesse they bestow on the FIRE sector, the pharmaceutical industry, the private health ensurers, the big energy companies, the telecommunications industry, the hedge funders, the corporate leverage buy-out raiders, and the most wealthy among us, in general. Even when their actions are illegal, as they are with the mortgage fraudsters, they are allowed to take with impunity, and they take far, far more than any of the people they so callously call “takers.”

They take Trillions that they do not earn in an honest day’s work. They crash the world economy and destroy the savings of many hundreds of millions. They take jobs, and dreams, and health, and education, and human happiness, and a sustainable environment from people. And they are helped by our politicians and officeholders who serve as their handmaidens and take great rewards from their financially more well-off masters. So, these are the real takers, the ones who despoil society and create a desolation in the name of order and neoliberal profit-taking.

The Republican and Democratic masters of the universe are right that this is about the makers and the takers. But they are projecting when they do not look into the mirror to find out who the takers are. And when Krystal Ball says: “. . . they are never going to vote for a party that sees them as a bunch of mooching takers”, she needs to add “while at the same time they “take, and take, and take beyond imagination through political power, fraud, trickery, and deceit.”

That’s the point the DC/New York “villagers” don’t want to talk about very much. They’ll credit people with not being likely to vote for people who label them “moochers,” but they won’t credit people with understanding that the real “takers” are not themselves, but the very people who are projecting that insult onto them.

Maybe that’s because the villagers don’t intend to talk about who the real takers are. But I think that people are smart enough to come to understand that anyway. And when they do, there will be hell to pay for those who guilt-tripped them in order to distract them from the reality of the real takers and their outrageous takings.

28 responses to ““Makers and Takers:” They’re Projecting Again!

  1. Good points, however, I don’t think it can be emphasized enough nowadays that Democrats are at least as culpable, bought by the bankster class to play the good cop to Republicans’ obvious bad cop. If the banksters had wanted a Republican to win, they could’ve conscripted a someone who convincingly play pious cowboy. One only need look at turnout in ’08/’12 cycles, where turnout plummeted in states with a more sizable contingent of social conservatives (see OK, KS, WV), which – I suspect – holds true for the contingent across states where it might’ve been decisive (e.g., OH, WI, IA, PA). Obie was conscripted to privatize Social Security and Medicare, because, as only a hippie-puncher like Nixon could go to China, only a “Kenyan, Muslim, socialist” could privatize Social Security.

    Another point: It’s important to distinguish between anti-class-exploitation and anti-classism. Democrats, when they aren’t using “cultural” “open-mindedness” as their carte blanche (Walter Benn Michaels illustrates this superbly in Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality), revert to calling out Republicans for being classist. It’s as if we should celebrate the unterbussen as another dimension of diversity rather than tangible policies that move people (1) into economic security and (2) away from the probosci of bankster rentiers. People ate up obvious dud and bad cop Mitten’s “47%”; what they ignored – intentionally or not – was “93%,” the amount of new income going to the wealthiest 1% under Obie and a supermajority Democratic Congress.

    • Joe Firestone

      I certainly agree. I think I strongly implied in the Post that Democrats too, were culpable. I’ve also said that in many other posts.

  2. I once met a man in Arizona who told me a story about his military service during the desert storm in Iraq. He was almost in tears when reflecting on the fact that he had left his pregnant wife behind. Their combined income was so low that she was told by a doctor that she needed to apply for food stamps to improve her nutrition lest she risk the baby’s life. His next greatest fear beyond that for his wife and unborn child’s health was being thought of as a taker. Imagine?

    In Canada this type of despair has been mostly unseen; however the concept of the “taker” is somehow working it’s way into the national conversation.

    • Joe Firestone

      Neoliberalism is catching. I’ve had the feeling Canada has been catching the illness over the past decade.

      • On reflection, I think the first initiatives seem to go back farther than that. The Neo Liberal (we have to come up with a less politically loaded term for it) push to privatize formerly public institutions is in full swing here now too. It’s beginning to feel like Britain in the 80’s. The framework is established at the federal level (with rubber stamps from conservative, Liberal and socialist parties) and the implementations bureaucracy has been rather stealthily assembled at the provincial level. In Ontario it has been mostly a Liberal government installing it.
        We are now seeing the first of our old fully public hospitals being replaced by P3’s. Health care service itself, thankfully, is still public and universally available for now.

        Another phenomena we are seeing is increasing numbers of “non-profit” enterprises replacing entire departments in formerly fully public institutions. An example of this is supply chain management in hospitals. The non-profit group, started by hospital managers who continue on in their public role as managers and directors (no conflict of interest there?) as well as being ceo of the non-profit, promise cost savings by replacing the entire public service purchasing dept staff etc . At least one such “non-profit” has been closely linked with a large (for profit) US supply chain firm.

        The legal framework for this scenario appears to have been set up years in advance without arousing public suspicions as to the motivations. The legal tricks cleverly include privacy protections, precluding the possibility of finding out who all the private sector beneficiaries are, and how much public money they receive making it impossible to determine if any tax dollars are actually being saved.

        The provinces are responsible for implementing health care, education and infrastructure and some like Ontario are now deeply in real debt, so like US states, they have few choices available other than raise taxes when the conservative prime minister refuses to even meet with the provincial premiers were the subject of additional federal transfers could be discussed.

        Then of course there are the globalist trade agreements constantly eroding the ability of local governments to implement sustainable economic development plans. If they deny a foreign corporation rights to a business opportunity (which usually involves resource extraction) Canada gets sued under these agreements.

        The Federal government is beginning to look like a branch plant manager for foreign owned corporations, that seems to fit the modus operandi for Neo Liberalism if I understand the term?
        Prime Minister Stephen Harper campaigned on the slogan “You won’t recognize Canada when we are done”. Well they are half way through a term with a majority and I already don’t recognize it.
        People are pitted against one another by the “innocent frauds”, and we legally have in the neighborhood of 350,000 foreign workers in a population of 30 million with unemployment running 7-8%. There are thousands of people with undergraduate degrees serving ice cream and Phd’s driving taxis for a living while the finance minister promises to “balance the budget” by 2015. To their credit though they have run the biggest deficit in Canadian history. The money just isn’t getting were it needs to be.

  3. Joe, you left the military-industrial complex out of your list of real takers, and a big one at that.

    • Joe Firestone

      Thanks, Sun. I knew I left something important out of that list. So, many corrupt agents of neoliberalism, one or two are bound to slip. -:) -:) -:)

  4. Yes, John C, Canada is catching up what with the help of our neoliberal conservative leader, Harper. We are in for a rough ride until 2015 when we can vote him out. But before that date, he will have altered Canada in so many ways that even a new leader may have difficulties undoing the wrong.

    • Joe Firestone

      He will. But at least in Canada there’s a strong reaction on the left that may move Canada to greater economic and social justice. Here we’re looking at the 5th Clinton term beginning in January 2017.

  5. Stats? Is there a source that compares dollars of corporate welfare v. social welfare? Estimated % of fraud in social programs? Perhaps the hungry consumers of “blame the victims” spin would reconsider if they could see how insignificant an amount actually goes to “gamers” as compared to the that being inhaled FIRE and the military.

    • Joe Firestone

      Haven’t seen anything comprehensive on this. But I agree that that kind of study would be a learning experience for people. One problem is that it will be difficult to define what “welfare” is for purposes of the study. It would be easier to define it in terms of subsidies, but even there it’s difficult because many people would object to calling abnormal extensions of Government credit “subsidies,” though clearly they are, especially when their effect is to help financial organizations create the false case that they are solvent and are making profits, which then can be funneled to some of their employees as “profit sharing” bonuses that, in fact, were never legitimately earned.

    • L Deke
      Not meant as criticism but let’s all of us remember Eisenhower and call the military what it has really become:

      The Military Industrial Congressional Complex

      From the website:
      “Editor’s Note: In the early years of the Cold War, President Dwight Eisenhower saw the future better than most U.S. leaders, recognizing the dangerous distortions to the nation’s political and economic systems from massive investments in military power.

      Though Eisenhower surely signed off on some misguided policies – the CIA-engineered coups in Iran and Guatemala come to mind – former CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman notes in this guest essay that the outgoing president also left the nation with a prophetic warning that wasn’t heeded:

      On Jan. 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his prophetic warning about the military-industrial complex, anticipating the increased political, economic, military and even cultural influence of the Pentagon and its allies.”

      • In addition to Iran and Guatemala, Eisenhower also injected “advisers” into Vietnam to replace the French who were being expelled. In the bigger picture, it was clear to many commentators and observers by late 1960 that the military-industrial complex was distorting the economy and society in unhealthy ways, although the prospect of the cold war heating up was enough to convince most Americans to go along with the distortions in order to “keep us safe”. Eisenhower and his brother, John, who helped write Ike’s farewell address, were raised by parents who were members of the Church of the Brethren, a peace loving if not pacifist sect. With that background, his experience fighting and destroying the Nazi Reich, and his presidential dealings with the military and defense industries, it’s little wonder that Ike proficiently saw and warned about the dangers of the military-industrial-congressional-complex.

  6. i call it “socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor”. the rich see it the other way around. sigh. i’m at a loss as to what can I do to help turn it around. articles like this one – and bill black’s – are good to point out the problem. yet, even influential people don’t seem to be able to make inroads to positive change.

    • Joe Firestone

      One can do small things, of course, such as always vote against one’s Republican incumbent, and the most egregious “blue dogs” who always vote to feather the nests of the big corporations and the rich. And one can always try to take back the D party from the Rs or try to replace the Ds with the Greens. Right now Green Party activists have formed the most impressive group in the history of that party.

  7. I agree that the Greens are the best party around and we may be able to get some Greens in local offices. My problem is that they aren’t powerful enough to contest for national offices and supporting them will end up helping the republicans. I have a pretty good set of democrats representing me in Joe Courtney, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal but I am very concerned about Murphy’s and Blumental’s stands on the TPP.

    • Joe Firestone

      I understand, but I think it should be possible in some safe D districts to elect Greens to Congress. Of course, they’d organize Congress with the Ds, but also would serve as a counterweight in the caucus to the blue dogs.

      • Auburn Parks

        Right Joe, certainly having Bernie Sanders be an Independent certainly doesn’t impact the Dems as far as votes go. However, what would happen in a situation where you had 45 R senators, 40 D senators and 15 G senators? Then the R’s would have all the committee chairmanships, leader positions etc. Not as big a deal in the senate as the House.

        Imagine the same thing in the house. You could wind up with a pretty darn progressive house that wouldn’t control any committees or be able to bring bills to the floor under regular order, since the speaker has monopoly control over that process. I guess there would still always be the discharge petition in that case. Its actually a pretty interesting little thought experiment, would that one day we had a sufficiently progressive populace to actually test this scenario out in real life

        • Joe Firestone

          Hi Auburn,

          However, what would happen in a situation where you had 45 R senators, 40 D senators and 15 G senators? Then the R’s would have all the committee chairmanships, leader positions etc. Not as big a deal in the senate as the House.

          I think what would happen is that the Greens would vote with the Ds to organize the Senate, and the price would be the Greens getting some Committee Chairmanships and may be a leadership position. Why wouldn’t the Ds do that? Losing some chairmanships is better than losing them all.

          I also think something similar would happen in the House. A D-G coalition would organize it and the Rs would be powerless. That’s why the Dems would be pushed to the left. They’d have to consent to moving the overton window to the left because otherwise they couldn’t keep the coalition with the Greens intact.

          • Auburn Parks

            well thats obvious enough. Just like Bernie and Angus Caucus with the Dems, and they vote for Harry Reid for leader (i think). Thats a pretty obvious solution you replied with, I probably should have thought of that right away.

            • Joe Firestone

              Right. I think the ticklish situation comes when the Greens approach parity with the Dems in numbers or actually have lesser numbers. Then the Dems the choice of whether to continue to affiliate with the Greens or to develop a coalition with the Republicans to defend Wall Street interests. In that kind of situation Wall Street might be back in control for awhile, but I think it would only be for a short time since any such move, removing all pretense that the Democratic Party still represented “the little people” would be gone and the transition to an all Green left party would only be accelerated. In short, I don’t think the Ds can survive against a growing Green Party unless they move left and co-opt the Greens as they did the populists and the progressives in other times.

  8. charles fasola

    Sorry folks. All of you over 35 years of age allowed it to get to this point and how it sucks living with the results of your rip van winkle stupor. You were distracted and sucked in to believing you could live your distracted consumerist lives and make it all okay by taking a couple hours to vote for candidates you spent zero due diligent time vetting. It’s too late to do it through the present system you’ve allowed to develop. So wake up, get out on the streets, maybe spend a little less time sitting on your butts, and force some change. Yes, you may have too take a little pain, but you’ll feel a whole lot better afterwards. Finally, when the Greens have one person who understands economics among its leadership maybe they’ll be worth a breath.

    • Joe Firestone

      They’ve got Ellen Brown, who’s beginning to get MMT I think, and they’ve got some other activists who’d be happy to take advantage of views on the money.

  9. Reframe It As PROFIT-RAPING.

  10. Hi Joe. How interesting to read about “takers” after encountering “Iowa Housewife” here. Call me uninformed, but somehow her “stimulating rant” prodded my understanding of what “takers” truly are. Forgive me for asking, but what is “neo-liberalism?

  11. Hypocrisy apparently knows no bounds in some of these anti-“taker” parts of the country:


    But why let facts get in the way of a good catchphrase and blind party affiliation.